Plans are well underway for an indoor sports facility in Cranbrook and while the effort is being spearheaded by the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA), the facility will be used for much more than just soccer.
Other field-based sports will be able to take advantage of the facility, such as lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee, while the Cranbrook Bandits baseball program is salivating at the potential opportunity to train indoors during the winter.
Paul Mrazek, who heads up the Bandits program, said the indoor facility, which is currently proposed at 2,600 square metres of indoor heated floor space on artificial turf, will help with the skill development of local baseball players over the long winter season.
“A new facility would be great for our indoor sessions, it would be great for what we do with minor ball, and it’d be great for a coaching and players clinic I’ve got lined up this year,” said Mrazek.
Currently, the Bandits program uses local school gymnasiums in the winter, but can be constrained by the physical space when trying to simulate game-situations.
“We make do and we do the best we can,” said Mrazek, “but it’s hard to get into the high schools and the middle schools with the bigger gym, but this year we got into [Mount] Baker a little bit, but even with that, we could use more floor space.”
Staying indoors over the winter helps players with skill development for the spring and summer season, and having an indoor facility would be that much more of a proper training space, Mrazek added.
“We’re hitting, we’re doing ground ball work, we’re able to break it down into small, short distances, to increase the reps,” he said. “You get true hops, you can really be specific in what you’re practicing. We can drop batting cages in a field house, in this new facility. We can have better practices, we can develop the kids.”
Baseball is growing in Cranbrook, as the Bandits program recently went up to two teams, while minor ball is also growing with three rep teams, in addition to the house league.
In fact, Mrazek is working on bringing in a specialist baseball coach from Toronto, Rick Johnston, to put on some coaching and players clinics.
Johnston has had a long career in baseball, playing at the college level and overseas, coaching Canadian national teams as well as scouting for teams in the MLB.
While the planned indoor facility is catching the eye of baseball players and coaches, it also has applications for others sports or teams such as the Cranbrook Badgers outdoor lacrosse program or rugby, while it could also be booked for special events such as trade shows and exhibitions.
The indoor facility has a proposed floor space of 2,600 square metres contained within an m2air-supported dome that has a projected cost of $1,7 million. The goal is to have construction started by this summer.
So far, organizers have raised over $50,000 — 10 per cent of their $500,000 goal. Once the fundraising reaches $1.2 million, which include grants and in-kind contributions above the $500,000 goal, construction can begin.
Organizers are also looking for a title sponsor for the facility — a business to make a significant contribution and have the honour of their name being added to the new building’s title. Those interested in donating can contact Mike Robinson directly at 250-421-7802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundraising so far:
Platinum ($10,000 or greater)
-Rob, Jess, Brooke, Reese and Joseie Niedermayer
-Lotic Environmental Ltd.
-Chong and Shilhan Family
-Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association
-McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd.
Gold ($5,000 or greater)
-North Star GM
-Re/Max Blue Sky Realty
Silver ($2,500 or greater)
-MacDonald Hydrology Limited
Bronze ($1,000 or greater)
-Ladies Auxiliary of Branch 24
-The Cain Family
Debra Parker & Kambi Heywood – DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts